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Virtual reality games, escape rooms immerse players in new worlds in the Garment District

Escape Virtuality, at 130 W. 29th St. in Manhattan, opens Wednesday with several virtual reality games, from first-person shooters to racing, and three escape rooms.

A multiverse of fun exists in the Garment District — all you have to do is strap on a headset.

Escape Virtuality at 130 W. 29th St. is a new entertainment complex with a virtual reality arcade and multiple escape rooms, including what is said to be New York City's first VR escape room. Officially opening at noon Wednesday, Escape Virtuality has about a dozen VR/simulation stations on its ground floor and the games are numerous. 

You can compete against your significant other on a state-of-the-art motion racing simulator, which moves with you as you steer, beat bad guys with your friends on multidirectional treadmills that allow you to walk in place as you move throughout the game map, or work together with your co-workers to escape the wrath of the Goblin King in the VR escape room.

The "Goblin's Quest: The Uprising" is like any other escape room, where you must solve puzzles and interact with the space around you within a 45-minute time limit, but there's nothing tactile around you. With that said, when you bend down to pick something up, you pick it up in-game.

"We're the only VR place that really offers interactive virtual reality escape rooms... all of our experiences here are tailored to multiplayer experiences so people can experience things together," said Neil Yasnogorodsky, Escape Virtuality's general manager. "A lot of people are going to come here because they haven't experienced VR in the past but have heard so much about it. This is a really affordable way to experience VR without having to purchase everything yourself."

The augmented climbing obstacle course is $7 to $10, for example, and the car simulator is $10 for every 10 minutes you play.

You don't have to jump right into racing cars or shooting enemies — Escape Virtuality also has simulator machines that you stand on to experience VR via films or through one of more than 30 games, including downhill skiing and a ride through a dinosaur park.

All the equipment may seem daunting, but Yasnogorodsky says there's nothing to worry about.

"We'll take care of everything for them," he said. "There's a lot of control we have in terms of difficulty and we always stand by them when we help them figure out how to work the game."

Upstairs are a series of escape rooms where with the touch of one item or the push of one button, visitors can spring something else into action with a hiss, an alert or another sound effect.

New Yorkers will appreciate the "Runaway Subway Train" room that has been built to resemble an actual subway train and mimic its movements and sounds. A screen at the front plays actual footage of a train passing through New York City's underground stations.

For those down for a little fright, the "Ghost Collector" experience places participants at a seance table with a giant Oujia board in a dimmed room. The goal is to capture evil spirits by finding their personal belongings.

Trekkies or sci-fi fans will want to try out the "Mission Galaxy Rescue," where they are put at the helm of a starship and must locate a missing transport ship and deliver cargo to a mining colony without succumbing to attacks.

Another, located near the front doors, asks you to stop a nuclear meltdown from taking out New York City.

"We focused a lot on the theatrics, the special effects and the experience players have inside our rooms as opposed to just the sheer complexity of them," he said. "The details are important — everybody comes to have a good time and not just solve the hardest puzzles they can, so we wanted to create a really immersive environment for our players."

To celebrate the opening, Escape Virtuality will offer 50 percent off from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

IF YOU GO: A one-hour VR pass, which allows you to have access to all the games, is $35, and a two-hour pass is $60. If you want to just play specific games, they range in price by how long you play, like from $7 to $10 for 10-minute increments. Escape rooms are $39 per person and an escape room and a VR pass can be purchased for $65. Book online or walk in at 130 W. 29th St.


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